The GDP Series

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Fanfiction
Title: The GDP Series
Author(s): Susan Foster
Date(s):
Length:
Genre: Sentinel and Guides are Known
Fandom: The Sentinel
External Links: Susan Foster's GDP Series[1]

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Contents

Blair as a GDP officer in the zine Susan's Sentinel Stories

The GDP Series is a Sentinel and Guides are Known series of Sentinel fiction by Susan Foster.

From the summary on the first story's page: "This story is set in the near future in an America very different from today, Sentinels are acknowledged and their abilities are used in everyday life in Police Work, Military, and Search and Rescue. Guides are thought of as second class citzens who's only function is to serve their sentinel, they become their property. Some guides turn rogue, and are hunted down by the sinster GDP, who have total power over them."

The TV Tropes description: "The GDP stories by Susan Foster is an alternate universe Sentinel Fan Fic series in which sentinels and guides are common and well-known to the public. Sentinels are widely respected due to their positions as protectors of society, and are given a status which is (largely) above the law. Their empathic guides, however, are treated as property, by the general public, sentinels — and by the sinister Guide Development Program, a Government Agency of Fiction in charge of training, organizing, and policing guides. The series follows Jim, a sentinel who never wanted a guide due to the inherent Unfortunate Implications of the thing, and Blair, who never wanted to be a guide for obvious reasons and who has about two years of serious trauma to work through (including rape and torture, so be warned, although very little actually occurs on-screen), as they try to make the most of their recent empathic bonding, and of their Crapsack World. It's one of the most influential fics in The Sentinel fandom, having introduced numerous concepts and terms to fanon. Also, it has Loads and Loads of Characters. Loads and loads of them. [2]

About the Series

Vocabulary

The series introduced many terms that have been used in other fanworks.

  • Senior Sentinel Prime
  • Dark Sentinel
  • Dark Guide
  • Claimed and Marked
  • empathic pathways
  • reaffirming the bond
  • intense emotional bonding that comes with a warning
  • rogue Guide

Some Series Tropes

Biology and Chemistry dictate many behaviors.

"After the initial bonding, sentinels and guides require a period of isolation together to confirm and strengthen their bond. This isolation should last a minimum of seven to 14 days, during which time the Sentinel will be particularly protective of his or her guide. The Sentinel will confront anyone who seems to threaten his/her "ownership" of the guide... The sentinel and guide generally settle into their bond and work through their differences during this period.

It is recommended that during this time no one attempt to talk to or touch the guide. He or she is considered by the sentinel to be his or her "property" and at this early stage of the relationship detection of another's scent on the guide could cause a violent reaction. Case history .....

During their lifetime together, Sentinel and Guide will reaffirm their bond on a regular basis. This is especially so when either Sentinel or Guide is sick or injured.

When bonding, the empathic guide completely lowers all the natural barriers that shield him or her from the emotions of the people around them. While this enables them to become sensitised to their sentinel and capable of feeling their emotions, it also leaves the guide totally vulnerable to ambient emotion. A touch from a person not the sentinel can cause extreme pain. Because this pain would be transmitted to the sentinel, whose protective instincts are already on the alert, the sentinel is to be considered very dangerous. There have been cases reported when a bonding sentinel has killed someone who touched the guide, causing pain. When the bond has been sealed, the guide will again raise the emotive barriers and can be safely approached.

An enraged, bonded sentinel is genetically programmed to respond only to his or her bonded guide.'

more info from "The Sentinel Primer" here[4]

Controversies Regarding the Series

You can probably tell where my big issue is with these stories. The fact is, fiction in which supposedly sympathetic characters not only accept, but embrace slavery just rubs me the wrong way. Especially when many of those characters are black (frankly, in that case I consider it outright offensive). In the past I've been willing to give these stories a chance, but the idea that Jim and Simon are even remotely willing to accept a person as less than human and thus a slave makes me cringe. It's just so very, very out of character, not to mention character bashing. Some folks really seem to like seeing Jim and Simon (there are others, but Jim and Simon are usually the biggest offenders) redeemed by their slow realization that Blair is way too awesome to be a slave and therefore slavery must be bad, but even in the best written stories in this genre, the fact that Jim and Simon will initially accept the slavery (and abuse and human trafficking) leaves a bad taste in my mouth, no matter how 'happy' the ending is. Thus I'm passing on these fics from now on. There's plenty of Sentinel fics that have the characters treating each other like human beings to read instead.[5]
I disagree with you here simply because I'm exactly the kind of person this type of series is written for. I love slave fics... I run slavefics! However, I accept that there are a lot of fics I like that non-slavefic-lovers are never going to understand, just like there are other kinks that I don't understand (both in terms of sexual kink and plot kink - slavery can be either or both types and for me it's both). That said there's one point I do semi-agree with you on - making good canon characters agree with slavery and in a non-fantasy-BDSM kind of way (unless it's an institutional-slavery AU done in a really skilled way making them gradually question their beliefs - Lit Gal did that really well with a "Sentinels are semi-slaves" fic where Blair changed).[6]
What bothers me about this rant first of all is that you're not ranting about the source AU (Susan's GDP universe), but the many stories written by others who purport to write in her world. So you have no idea whether these stories are truly representative of the AU or whether they twisted it horribly. You put down what you know of Susan's AU, clearly based on hearsay. And that's okay if you don't want to read Susan's stories because you suspect they will hit your squickmeter. But I still don’t understand why you exclude her stories in your rant.

Second, you carry authority here. So, when the first commenter said (paraphrasing) "Really? Why would anyone stand for that kind of world", you answer with a guess based on virtually no personal knowledge. Surely, you could say "I don't know because I'm not interested in reading in the AU. Perhaps another reader could offer you a perspective". That way, they could get an answer from other people who've actually read and might even like the stories. Since it's an AU that prompts others to write in it, for better or worse, wouldn't it be better to let people decide for themselves?

Next, you make no differentiation between authors who write and enjoy the GDP world and others who write in a "Sentinels Are Known" universe that might look like a GDP story but is significantly different. How could you, since you haven't read Susan's AU? I can't, unless the author credits Susan or they use her OCs. So, in effect, you're condemning stories that might very well be “anti-GDP”. Name some specific authors or stories, so at least we could tell which ones drive you crazy.

Next, there are slavery stories and slavery stories. There are slavery stories where the injustice of slavery is the main theme of the story, such as Uncle Tom's Cabin or Roots, and there are stories that take place against the backdrop of slavery as a way of life, like Gone With the Wind. Those stories would attract very different people. Which might explain why GDP is wildly popular with some readers and totally rejected by others. As to why someone who’s black would accept slavery of another, my only answer is to look at human history. The basic problem with the GDP universe, as someone already pointed out, is that no one really did enough “universe building” to let you understand *how* it came to happen. In any case, it’s an AU, so you can’t apply canon norms to it. In an historical AU, Simon might be a Moorish king with slaves of his own.[7]
To get an idea of how weird TS gen got, you should look up Martha's "The Beach" (I can't find a link right now) and other great works of smarm. Also the GDP series, because my God that was strange. It's basically slash where the author doesn't realize it's slash. [8]

Other Reactions and Reviews

... my God that was strange. It's basically slash where the author doesn't realize it's slash. [9]
Susan has created an AU world where Guides are essentially slaves to their Sentinels. Blair is a Guide without a Sentinel and doesn't want one. Jim is a Sentinel without a Guide who doesn't believe that anyone can "own" another person and therefore doesn't want a Guide. However, things change, and the two are forced to bond. Susan writes Jim in a very caring while at the same time very "covert ops" and intense way. Blair is written as both vulnerable and strong. The three stories she has so far (Sentinel 101, Sentinel Primer, and Living with the Past) are filled with h/c, drama, and excellent story-telling. Simon also plays a large part in these stories, and is written very well, which for me, is one more selling point. Wonderful stories in a series that I hope will have more installments to come. [10]
Imagine a universe in which Sentinels are valued for their abilities and feared for their protective, sometimes savage, instincts. To allow Sentinels to remain sane and function in society they are bonded with empathic guides, who become their property. The GDP, Guide Development Project, is a corrupt agency with full authority to find, train, and control empaths.

Blair is an empath who tried to hide his abilities in order to keep his freedom. Jim Ellison is a late-blooming Sentinel who is repulsed by the idea of owning and being dependent on another human being. But Blair is captured, first by psychotic Sentinel Alex Barnes and then by the GDP, who label him rogue and set out to break him. When Jim goes into a life-threatening crisis, the two are thrown together.

The GDP series, along with the associated Learning Curve, Dark Guide, and Dark Sentinel series, are very popular in Sentinel fandom. Nevertheless, I have been uncertain about reccing them. Susan's writing is often rushed and sloppy, riddled with poor grammar, plot holes, and typos (especially when first posted - the older stories have been mostly cleaned up). But she tells such gripping and emotional stories that readers overlook the flaws. The concepts in these stories have inspired many other authors as well, spawning a whole sub-universe of Sentinel fiction. I think it is a good idea for the interested reader to start here, at the beginning.

PS. While classified as Gen the bonding scenes are sensual enough to satisfy many slash fans. Enjoy :-) [11]
Susan Foster? BLECH!!! [12]
"Susan Foster? BLECH!!!" LOL, I know where you are coming from. To be honest, I stopped reading after awhile. I just couldn't take the sloppiness. Most authors improve with experience. She just seemed to get more rushed and careless. But I recced the series because in spite of the flaws it is significant in the fandom, and I did enjoy the earlier stories. [13]
Because her concept was so interesting, I was willing to forgive a lot in this series. But I lost patience a couple of years ago, when the "this is not slash" disclaimers started appearing in all caps. If you're going to write "bonding" scenes with your naked male characters twined around each other, screaming in ecstacy, just admit that you're writing slash and get on with it. [14]
Though I have reservations about Susan Foster's writing, I applaud her willingness to share her universe and her concepts with other writers. The Sentinel fandom is richer for it. [15]
It's been a while since I read anything in Susan Foster's GDP series. Initially, I found the concept interesting but in the long run I couldn't handle the way she portrayed Blair. It was just not the guy I liked to see and was used to see from the show, not even if thrown into such a world.

Yes, I agree with finding Susan's "bonding scenes" suspiciously close to slash. Okay, in my view it *is* slash - despite Susan insisting upon it's not.

I mean, if an author really doesn't want to give the impression of a slash-scene, he or she should probably avoid terms and descriptions that will likely remind a lot of readers of sex-scenes.

Aside from that, this AU-concept sparked a lot of other stories that play with the idea of a world, where sentinels and guides are known, some of them handling the matter better than Susan does. Again, my opinion, you (generic) might see this different.

From this view it's true, Susan's work made an impact on the AU-side of TS-fanfiction that goes beyond the question whether one likes her stories or not. [16]
The AU that has spawned many other AUs. The author is against slash, yet the whole story is full of manly skin on skin bonding, so who cares? Jim is an unbonded sentinel. He must have a guide. However, guides here are completely the property of their sentinels and much abused both within and without the sentinel-guide relationship. Blair is considered a problem guide and has been horribly abused. Will Jim be able to bond with him? Will Blair ever be able to have a semi-normal life? Whole series and sub-series and other stuff on Susan's page. [17]
GEN, but still kind of slashy. This is one of the best AUs I've ever read. Sentinels are known and admired. But the guides are treated as slaves with no rights, controlled by the GDP. But when Sentinel Jim Ellison meets rouge Guide Blair Sandburg things start to change... A long angsty series with many parts. If you're looking for hurt/comfort fics this series is for you. [18]
"Hehehe. I read that whole series "years and years" ago. Yes, Ive been around for long time. Anyhoot. Its def an intense and not for the faint hearted reading. I swear Ithought it was slash the first time round, but its NOT.

so all those longing intense emotional semi sexual bonding scenes where they lay in each others arms for hours.....yeah--thats TOTALLY HETERO! LOL. All that growling over protective Alpha posturing that he does when anyone comes close to blair, yeah.....totally NOT gay! lol.

having said that, good world building and those GDP officials....(shudders) def a good read if you like HURT and HURT and then Comfort!"[19]
I love this series. I. Love. This. Series. What I love about this series is how Susan manages to walk that VERY fine line between smarm and slash. It's damn near impossible to do, but she does it. And she does it well. The series is intense, but then again, the world she's create is intense. Guides are damn near slaves and Sentinels their owners. Until one Sentinel/Guide pair start changing the world to suit them. If you like dark angst, you'll love this series. But a warning, if you try to read this in one sitting, you'll blitz out on it. So, my recommendation? Take day long breaks. Or at least hour, if you can't wait that long! [20]
A parallel universe series set in a future America where the Sentinel phenomenon is well-known and Guides are treated like slaves. The stories are, so far Sentinel 101, Sentinel Primer, Living With The Past, Outside Looking In, Happy Americas Day, Forget Me Not, Sentinel Sanctuary and Sentinel Conference.

This is one for the h/c fans, definitely. So why did I keep reading? Particularly when there were times when I wanted to throw it down in disgust at what those sick bastards (who deserved to be struck by lightening) were doing. (And a feeling of horror, wondering how any freedom-loving people could have allowed such oppression to happen.) Well, it had a plot. And I admit I like psi things like empathic bonds.

Though the characters of Jim and Blair here are Jim-like and Blair-like, they are only partly the guys we know. This is because (a) Jim is a Dark Sentinel (a product of the author's own take on the Sentinel mythos, which has some aspects that I really Do Not care for - particularly the dominance/submission stuff, and the split-personality - geeze, I know that Sentinels are primitive, but they aren't animals, for goodness sake!) and (b) Blair is an empath, with consequent vulnerabilities.

This universe for some reason, reminds me of the Sime~Gen universe of Jacqueline Litchtenberg, with Sentinels as Channel-Simes, and Guides as Companion-Gens - with the same non-person treatment that Gens got in Sime territories. There's even an offhand reference to a religious sect which feels a bit like the Church of the Purity. However, the Sime~Gen universe is much better.

This author has a weakness of style - she has a tendency to repeat herself - phrases, descriptions - for example, saying that Jim only expressed two emotions, happiness and anger. Perhaps if I hadn't read them all one after another, I wouldn't have noticed. Or perhaps not.

So why did I keep reading? Egged on by hope that there will be a revolution? Not in this lifetime, though. (Another thing that reminds me of Sime~Gen). Though, actually, one gets the impression from the last story that the author is going to ignore the difficulties of the universe she's set up, and make things improve faster than is realistically possible. I've got mixed feelings about that. Anyway, maybe I'm just a sucker for empathic bonds. Or I had a bout of temporary insanity.

But if you're a h/c fanatic, you'll probably love it. [21]
A huge *huge* favorite series of mine. The author has done things I wish I could and has created an entire universe that is very enthralling (at least to me). I eagerly await each new story and reread older stories quite often. **This is mostly for the main series; the more recent stories aren't as good (IMO) and the Dark Guide subseries is becoming something uncomfortably close to slash fic.** [22]
As a slashaholic i dont read gen fics in the fandoms I like. A reccommendation on the archive fro Sentinel slash fic (852 Prospect) made me curious to read Susan Fosters GDP series of stories. I went over to the Sentinel Gen fic archive Guide Posts and started with Sentinel 101.

Set in an AU where Sentinels and Guides are known, and Guides are under the control of the Guide Development Project, treated as slaves, this series is brilliant. And, Im sorry, but it looks like slash to me.

Guides are empaths, and Sentinels in this AU are rather primal. They link with their Guides via a mental bond that is emotional, requires body contact, and is very intense. Perceived threats to a Guide tip Sentinels straight into an extreme BP mode where they could easily kill. In this series, one of my fave Jim characterisations- PRIMAL JIM!- is central. He's a total hardass, who once bonded reluctantly with Blair - who in this series is one of my less favourite versions, MUCH ABUSED BLAIR- is not above crushing the life out of any threat to him. Literally. The key sense featured in this series seems to be smell, and Jim is way more tactile in this AU regarding Blair and is always sniffing him too. When Sentinels here come across each other they behave like hunting animals vying for dominance. BUt you can gues who turns out the be THE Alpha Male over all the Sentinels in Cascade! This series has great plots, and so much hurt/comfort you, gentle reader will need to take painkillers. And it has Jim angst and Blair angst by the bucketload. There's even a secondary series where the Blair/Jim pairing of centuries ago is revealed, and in that AU, Blair is a kick-ass, trained assassin as well as shaman and healer who is quick to want to carve up anyone who even looks at Jim the wrong way. And I repeat, ladies, ITS SLASH. Even though the author has characters declaim that the Sentinel/Guide relationship is um not sexual, nevertheless, they are described as soulmates, two bodies but one soul, often sleep wrapped up in each others arms, and things are way too intense for all that -we are best friends and brothers- shit.Definately a case of DEnial being that river located you know where

SERIOUSLY THIS IS A DAMN FINE SERIES. [23]
I read obsessivly gen and slash I second the motion that this is a great series. It can be read as either gen or slash/preslash. It should also be mentioned that it does include some male rape both accomplished and attempted. Non explicit in the first few stories though. D/S fans will probably like this story. No sex between the two main characters, but LOT'S of D/S. It could be said that the rightness and wrongness of it are the main themes of the story line. [24]
This is possibly the most well-known Sentinel AU out there. It's established many cliches of Sentinel fanfiction - bonding, Dark Sentinels, guides (or sentinels) as second-class citizens, etc etc. It's definately gen, but the bond between Jim and Blair is so strong that it generally satisfies even hardcore slashers. It does have its faults, of course, but in general it's a hugely interesting universe, with well-written stories. It's also massive. Each story is pretty long in itself, and I can't begin to count how many stories there are even in the main series, let alone all the spin-offs. Many of Susan's other stories are tied in some way to the GDP - and other writers have also played in her universe. I'm not sure if there's an actual list of all GDP-universe fics anywhere, there are just so many of them. The place to start, though, is Sentinel 101. [25]
I'm having Sentinel fandom flashbacks. Especially the series where the author would insist that her stories weren't slash, then include multiple scenes of "intense emotional bonding" that involved Jim and Blair, naked, screaming in ecstasy. Oooookay.... [26]

Other Fanworks the GDP Series Inspired

Despite the fact the series is gen (though some say only nominally), most of the fanworks it has inspired are slash.

Includes both in the same vein and responsefics.

  • Conforming to Requirements (slash) by Fluterbev ("In a society where Sentinels are prized, and the inferior status of Guides is enshrined in law, Sentinel Jim Ellison doesn't want to Bond. His rental Guide isn't allowed to.") (includes podfic)
  • Control Issues (slash) by Litgal ("In a world that knows, loves, respects, but doesn't trust its Sentinels, Jim is determined to hide his abilities. He won't submit to a guardian ad litem having custody of him in a legal system that ranks him on the same level as a child. He will not give up his control, not to anyone.")
  • Exile (gen) by Java Head ("A 14-year old Blair is a rogue runaway empath in search of his true Sentinel.")
  • Fate's Fallout (slash) by KC ("I've admired Susan Foster's AU GDP series for a long time, and found it refreshingly original, very inspiring. This story is based loosely upon that.")
  • stories by Arnie (gen) but just barely
  • Sentinel Corps by Rogue

External Sites

References

  1. reference link.
  2. Fan Fic: The GDP Series, see that page for tropes
  3. reference link.
  4. reference link.
  5. GDP Stories post in epic rants dated Jan 29, 2010; reference link.
  6. comment in GDP Stories post in epic rants dated Jan 29, 2010; reference link.
  7. comment in GDP Stories post in epic rants dated Jan 29, 2010; reference link.
  8. This is quite homoerotic -- Due South shipping metal, posted January 2, 2011
  9. 2011 comments at Bigmamag
  10. Best of Sentinel Drama FanFiction on the Web
  11. 2006 comments at Crack Van
  12. 2006 comments at Crack Van
  13. 2006 comments at Crack Van
  14. 2006 comments at Crack Van
  15. 2006 comments at Crack Van
  16. 2006 comments at Crack Van
  17. Sentinel AUs: Mercutio Reads!, 2006
  18. Sentinel Recs, Kristina's Corner
  19. comment in Susan Foster's GDP Series dated Sept 17, 2102; reference link.
  20. Lady Angel Loves...; WebCite
  21. Kat Space, 2000
  22. Becky's Fanfiction Recommendations: Drama
  23. Slash Sluts Multifandom Recs Board: More Sentinel Recs; 2001
  24. Slash Sluts Multifandom Recs Board: More Sentinel Recs, 2001
  25. AU Recs by Lanta
  26. Epic Rants: Where Religion and Fanfic Collide, December 16, 2011
  27. reference link.
  28. reference link.
  29. reference link.
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